Holiday Hangover

January 5th! That means I survived. And you survived. Now it’s 2015 and the recovery begins. A lot of things begin.

I’ve always been an annoyingly enthusiastic Holiday person, and I begin playing Christmas music and watching Elf on repeat the day after Thanksgiving basically until someone stops me. When I was a kid it meant presents and a much-needed break from school. In my OLD AGE it means reuniting with a family that live across four different states the whole year, save for one week in December. A week where we all fight for my moms attention with either boasts or ailments and both seem to do the trick: Mom did you see this article I was mentioned in? Hey mom does this mole look cancerous to you? Should I see a doctor? Is this scabies? We always engage in some sort of game whether it’s cards or Scrabble or Monopoly, and typically it ends in either a tiresome debate about rules until someone gives in or an all-out wrestling match if it’s late and there’s drinking involved. Usually one Gelpi ends up in the hospital– not because of wrestling but because we are a weak, weak gene pool of humanity and besides our humor we all share malfunctioning bodies, respectively. I’m not the only one! This year it was Nick, but he’s OK for the most part.

Making and carrying out a plan with our family during the Holidays is like a hybrid game of Guess? and Sorry! We aren’t on time, we aren’t organized, and worst of all, we laugh when things go wrong. It’s just our nature. I think once you witness enough tragedies in life you to learn to laugh, even during stressful times. Maybe especially during stressful times; a defense mechanism of sorts. My brother Doug is best at this. Any time things get tense, Doug is usually laughing or doing something so ridiculous that few of us can keep a straight face. Like subjecting someone to a Dutch Oven while laughing hysterically loud even though it’s TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE. Or in this case, playing the original Tetrus music by ear on Harlow’s cat piano.

He's single ladies...
He’s single ladies…

Anyway, a major exception should be mentioned here, and that is my sister, Amelie. Amelie is structured, on-time, and enjoys making plans and sticking to them. Was this a gene she was awarded that the rest of us missed out on? Maybe. Unfortunately her orderly ways and reliability only go so far. Trying to gather the lot of us in one location in a timely fashion is like herding cats, high on gasoline. But she does her best. Let’s just say the phrase “You guys are seriously ruining Christmas!!!!” is uttered more than once during our stay. But eventually we all arrive, end up at one table, and celebrate the way we always have; with food, drink, laughter and gratitude.

Correction, Christmas has NOT been ruined.
Correction, Christmas has NOT been ruined.

We’re lucky to have the hosts we do. They treat and feed us very well despite our chronic tardiness and lack of organization. Experiencing the Gelpi crew back together under one roof is a recurring novelty for me, and I never expect it to get old. Not unlike those baby dolls I used to ask Santa for every year as a kid; the ones that pissed in their pants and could digest plastic food.

Given how loud this year was, it’s hard to imagine that there will be two new babies added to the mix by the next one. But the more the merrier I say. Can’t have enough kids at Christmas.

Harlow, slightly overwhelmed
Harlow, only slightly overwhelmed Christmas morning. 

I promised myself this year I would not stay home for New Years Eve. For too many years I’ve either celebrated with my parents or gone to bed at 10:30 and woken up groggy to a new year without anything to commemorate it. I’m well aware that NYE is often overhyped and ends up in broken plans and separating from the group and yada yada yada. I guess since getting sick and falling off the social grid, I’ve craved dressing up and celebrating in some way at least with people of a similar generation. So this year I made it happen. My friend Merric and I wore pretty dresses, attended random venues and saw fireworks at midnight. I had zero expectations for the night, which quickly reminded me what a total recipe for fun that equals. No expectations means no letdowns, and it made all the incidental places we ended up in feel perfect: an uptown house party, a hole in the wall bar in the Marigny, fireworks on the river, and reuniting with an old friend on Royal Street at 2:30 am.

Walking down Canal street at that hour, I felt totally alive. I walked a zig-zag path having to cross the street to dodge what looked like trouble or some drunken leftover heading my way that I had no intention of interacting with. Still, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Among the noise and strangers yelling about a better year to come, I felt my ‘place’, like I fit somehow. I felt on the inside. I don’t know if it was them, or me, or the French Quarter at night, but in that moment I felt real optimism for the upcoming year. I felt complete gratitude to be alive and forgot about whatever circumstances I’d deemed crappy before. I guess for the first time in a long time, I felt my own age, and realized how nice it is to feel that way. I made friends, I made a fool of myself, and I probably made some mistakes. But they were mine. I was out in the world that I’m often only looking out at through a window. And that, for me, made for a perfect New Years Eve.

Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall
Living Room.
New Orleans Living Room.

Now, back to recovery. And no regrets!

Health, Happiness, Holidays.

The Killers Relief

When I wake up
Everything is just how I left it
In between tossing and sheets
sweating and dream world,
the killers wore off
And it’s as though nothing has changed
I still feel everything.

Because the hour is inappropriate
To start a day now,
I re-dose and wait
And this is admittedly exciting for me
That’s what they call
The thrill of relief.
When the killers go to work
I will struggle but win eventually
I’ll go back to dreaming
Where everything is the same.

I heard once
That you don’t feel pain in your dreams
Which makes me wonder
Where I’ve been going every night.

Last night I dreamt of money
And big powerful bankers.
I counted my money repeatedly
And my fingers throbbed
Until I dropped it all
watched it scatter
When I awoke I couldn’t recall the amount
Something had changed
But my fingers ached the same.

When I awake a final time
It will be inappropriately late
To start a day
Everything that once was numbed
Will have seeped back in,
alive and noisy.
The jury is out
On the purpose of pain
But each night it comes
Then the killers kill it
And I return to dream world
Until it comes again.
When I awake,
Everything the same.

The Day My Dog Sh*t on Park Avenue and I Didn’t Have a Bag

The following is a true story. For realsy.

It was August of 2008 in New York City and unbearably hot. And that’s coming from a Southerner. They were calling it the heat wave of the century. At least I was calling it that. People were basically stripped down to nothing and when you breathed you felt the heat expand in your lungs. The cement made the already hot air electric. It would burn you at times, only letting up for about an hour between 2 and 3 am. Walking outside was what I imagine the last two weeks of pregnancy must be like; simply uncomfortable. That being said, I was REALLY hungover.

There’s something about being hungover that makes heat…hotter. I basically just want air to be blowing at me when I’m under the weather that way. I used to stand in front of the freezer with the door wide open for far too long and just let the cold air rush past my face in some weird attempt at relief and to try and make the hangover go faster. Like it’s some guest I can get scoot out the door. But everybody knows…you just have to sweat it out. I still can’t believe we’re capable of growing seedless watermelons but we can’t figure out the cure for a hangover. That being said, Monty really had to pee.

Every dog owner knows that on the day after partying, the dog totally gets shafted. “Sorry buddy. Mommy blacked out last night and now my everything hurts and so we’re probably not going to play fetch or do anything remotely fun today.” I feel awful when it happens. I hardly drink anymore because, well, I feel dead all the time on my own. But there were those days. There WERE those days–When moving was all-too-painful and your pores smelled like candy and vodka and your hair was inexplicably sticky? It was one of those days. Monty needed to do his business. New York was exploding with heat. And I was deathly hungover.

I was staying at my brothers apartment. It was on the third floor, so I mentally prepared myself for the walk down the stairs I was about to take. I walked cautiously and told Monty “Go slow buddy. I could DIE at any second.” He seemed to notice I was out of sorts and behaved a little better on his leash. I pushed open the ridiculously heavy door at the end of the stairs and the sun and the heat and the smell of New York pour in and engulf me and I kindof throwup in my mouth. I swallow hard,  blink my eyes forcefully a few times, and hold my head still while my eyes catch up with reality. I turn right, begin the walk down the sidewalk and Monty wastes no time. He spots the first tree, lifts his leg, and I contemplate letting the semi driving down the street run me over. He passes. And business number one is done. Great, keep going. There’s a spot that he loves to poop a few blocks down, but I’m wondering if I can make it that far. My life is in Monty’s hands. Or butt. I have to get this over with. “Just go anywhere buddy. Really, it’s fine to go on the cement.” But Monty is a Southern dog and is still getting used to shitting on cement. I can tell by the look in his eyes when he does it, it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s the human equivalent to driving on the left side of the road in England. Or putting ketchup on a filet. Something like that.

As we walk on, my stomach starts to turn. Ah, the viscous waves of nausea that accompany the hangover. Will I puke? Or will it pass? The mystery of it all is fantastic. I look away from the sun and think of lemons. I always think of lemons when I am nauseous. I’ve done this since I was little and it’s the only thing that helps if I concentrate on it. Lemons lemons lemons lemons lemons lem…aaaaaand now my mouth is watering. The turning gets faster, the saliva is circulating in my mouth and I know it’s go time. We stop at a tree, I get on my knees, and share my insides with the streets of New York. Awesomely, my throw up tastes like gatorade. I find that Gatorade is the best thing to vomit. It tastes the same coming out as it did going in! I like the red flavor but really any of them will do. As I’m crouched over, puking, Monty tries to start licking it. “NO!” I yell with as much energy as I can get behind that word. Then I ralph again. I hear high heels walking towards me. I know she’s classy. I can feel how pretty and put together she is. She smells good too. “Hey, are you OK?” she asks as she hands me a kleenex. Is this rock bottom? I think so, but I can’t be sure. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thank you.” I don’t make eye contact. I feel so ashamed. I wish I were wearing high heels and expensive perfume and walking somewhere important. Instead I am upchucking on a sidewalk and my dog is trying to eat it. WHEN WILL I GET IT TOGETHER. OK, so the best part about puking is how good you feel after you puke. I take a deep breath, continue our walk, and bear the heat a little more easily. On to number 2.

We’re approaching Monty’s favorite spot, and we’re both getting excited. I can tell, he’s been waiting for this for a while. My relief after vomiting is short lived and by the time I get to his special spot, all my symptoms are back. Awesome. Monty does his business and I pick it up with a torn grocery bag, and it strikes me that picking up dog shit off the sidewalk with a damaged bag is NOT the grossest thing I’ve done today, and that is concerning.

We turn and begin the treck home. I am going to make it. Monty and I are both going to live and I smile at the idea of getting back to the apartment and not moving again until tomorrow. But suddenly, something is happening. I can feel it. I sense something with Monty. Why is he wearing that excited look he gets when he’s about to poop? He already did that. He’s sniffing at another tree and won’t come when I pull the leash. It can’t be. No. No no no. Not a DOUBLE POOP DAY. SHIT. DOUBLE SHIT. It’s a strange phenomena that happens once in a blue moon. The double poop. You never know when it will happen. But almost always when it does, you’re not carrying the bag with the extra in-case-of-emergency poop bag. SHIT. I am on Park Avenue. I am the human version of a car accident, and my dog is pooping and I don’t have a bag. Thanks Monty, thanks a lot. He wags his tail. My stomach turns and the road dizzies.

I have no explanation for what happened next, but it really did happen. There is a sudden breeze, and I close my eyes and just let the somewhat refreshing movement of air run over my face. It had been static air in New York for so long it felt like. Suddenly, a breeze. I feel calm. I try to think if this is a poop and run moment or what my plan of action is. Just as I contemplate options,  I feel something grace my ankle. I look down and see that a Duane Reede bag was blown right onto my foot. The wind carried it from who knows where, and basically delivered it to me and this train wreck of a situation. I can’t believe it. I look around and make sure I don’t see a dude in a glowing white suit say “You’re Welcome. By the way, I’m God.” I don’t harp on it too long because that breeze is dying down and of course, my stomach is turning. I disgard Monty’s second helping. We complete our walk and make it to the apartment, up the stairs, and onto the couch. I don’t move for the next 12 hours. I play that moment of the bag hitting my ankle over and over. And that was the day my dog shit on Park Avenue and I didn’t have a bag.

And then, suddenly, I did.

Health, Happiness, and Always Take a Second Bag.

Sorry I pulled the double deuce on you!